A Year Ago Today – The Beginning of Our Documentary and the DSLR

It was exactly a year ago today that I left with my daughter on a 99-day journey around the world to create a documentary about people on six continents who were making a difference in the world. I was not new to video or documentaries, having shot motion for over twelve years and completing three short films.  But this was big – not in the sense of “big production” or “big crew” or certainly not “big budget” – it wasn’t any of those things but it was indeed BIG.

I had no idea how big it turned out to be.  The trip in itself was almost the easy part, although don’t get me wrong – it was arduous on every level.  What was overwhelming was taking the project from idea to completion.  Had I known how overwhelming it has been at times, I may have reconsidered – or at the very least had a bigger crew.

The crew was my daughter and myself.  I shot video. She shot stills.  She interviewed the subjects and ran sound.  I operated the camera and shot B-Roll.  She research, scheduled and pre-interviewed the subjects and I worked on all the logistics – travel, travel needs and gear.  I thought about gear long and hard and decided to go with the hybrid cameras, in my case the Canon 5D Mark II and the Canon 7D.  I wanted to capture both stills and video, but I didn’t want to bring two separate camera systems, so I chose the hybrids. I have written a lot about the gear but the all time most popular post I wrote was about my gear for this 99-day journey.

We returned in September with over 150 hours of footage and over 5000 still images.  Wow!  Talk about overwhelming. I spent 2 solid months of my winter getting the footage into a manageable rough timeline – or at least the sound bites. I handed it off to my editor Erik Freeland of Springhouse Films and he hopes to get me his rough cut this weekend.  I’ve had many conversations with Erik over the past month or so about the story(s) and the arc of the film and he truly understands how to tell a story.  I am extremely grateful that I was able to hire a professional editor and it never would have been possible, without my successful run with Kickstarter.

I have been working a lot in the back scenes with distribution options and I am thrilled with what I am finding.  This is the time for “the documentary”.  It’s possible with small budgets and crews to make a powerful film that can be seen in hundreds of various venues well past the big screen movie houses and film festivals.  It’s an amazing time for “the individual” and what can be accomplished because of technology. That’s another blog for another time though.

I’m headed to California this afternoon to speak at Cal Poly tomorrow evening. Join me if you’re in the area.  For old time’s sake, I took my Eagle Creek bag  – which I had circumvented the globe with.  It seemed like the right thing to do.

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3 Replies to “A Year Ago Today – The Beginning of Our Documentary and the DSLR”

  1. Hi Gail!!

    I already sent you a note on twitter 🙂

    I would love to interview you on my blog about your movie!!

    I saw the vimeo trailer and it sounds quite inspiring.

    Let me know if you’re interested and what’s the best way to reach you.

    Regards, BK

    ps. you can find more about the interview series here:


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